These four straightforward activities have surprising mental benefits.
1. Stare at a grassy rooftop to reduce errors
Taking a 40 second break to glance at a grassy rooftop boosts concentration and reduces mental errors.
It doesn’t even need to be an actual grassy rooftop, only a picture of one.
Dr Kate Lee, of the University of Melbourne Faculty of Science, who led the study, said:
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“We know that green roofs are great for the environment, but now we can say that they boost attention too.
Imagine the impact that has for thousands of employees working in nearby offices.
This study showed us that looking at an image of nature for less than a minute was all it took to help people perform better on our task.”
This study is a neat twist on the well-known benefits of a micro-break.
It nicely illustrates the fact that a little break from work shouldn’t just be checking your email or looking at your screensaver…
…unless the screensaver is a grassy rooftop of course.
2. Chew gum to get rid of an earworm
Got a song stuck in your head that just won’t go away?
No problem, chew some gum.
Amazingly earworms can be countered by chewing gum, a recent study has found.
This is because, the study’s authors write:
“…an articulatory motor activity—in this case, chewing gum—interferes with the experience of “hearing” musical recollections both voluntarily, or at any rate without any specific instruction to suppression the recollection…”
In other words: chewing is like talking, which is like singing, so somehow messes up the recall of the song.
3. Eat chocolate to boost attention
I could remind you that going for a run boosts attention, but lets forget about that for a moment…
…because eating chocolate can do the job.
Actually it does need to be dark chocolate and it will increase your blood pressure, so the news isn’t all good.
Professor Larry Stevens, who conducted the study, said:
“A lot of us in the afternoon get a little fuzzy and can’t pay attention, particularly students, so we could have a higher cacao content chocolate bar and it would increase attention.”
Well, alright, if you absolutely insist Professor.
4. Climb a tree for better memory
It may feel like your brain is slowing down with age, but that’s not it.
In fact, psychologists have discovered, adults don’t climb enough trees.
Climbing a tree can actually improve working memory by 50%, a new study has found.
The same is true of other dynamic activities like balancing on a beam, carrying awkward weights and navigating around obstacles.
It seems to be because it forces working memory to work harder.
(Perhaps it’s trying to remember not to fall out of the tree.)
Dr Ross Alloway, the study’s first author, said:
“This research suggests that by doing activities that make us think, we can exercise our brains as well as our bodies.
This research has wide-ranging implications for everyone from kids to adults.
By taking a break to do activities that are unpredictable and require us to consciously adapt our movements, we can boost our working memory to perform better in the classroom and the boardroom.”
Mind hack image from Shutterstock
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This site is all about scientific research into how the mind works.
It’s mostly written by psychologist and author, Dr Jeremy Dean.
I try to dig up fascinating studies that tell us something about what it means to be human.